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How is this accurate?


cottonmather0

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We just got back from our formal hearing this afternoon with the Appraisal Board and I have to say, walking out of there I felt like the jackboot of HCAD was planted squarely on my neck. I am just about beside myself with the way that worked out.

My wife and son and I all woke up with horrible head colds on the day of the informal so I called HCAD and asked to reschedule and was told that it was too late and I couldn't reschedule on the day of and that I could just show up for the formal. OK Fine. So my wife and I put together our little packet and went down there today.

We had pictures of all of the comps in the neighborhood, we had spreadsheets, we had press clippings from HAR, and we had dozens of photos from the house 4 doors down that sold in November and has the same floorplan and square footage as ours but with a much more nicely remodeled inside and a very pretty deck and spa in back.

HCAD had our "market value" listed at $398,000 and was using sales values from February and March of 2007 for 4 of the 5 "comparables" that they were using. I thought our case was a slam dunk. Our appraisal last year after our remodel was $315,000. This year the assessment went up to $361,000 after the 10% cap and the very small amount of remodeling that was finished after Jan 1 of last year.

In the hearing I pointed out that the almost identical house just down the street from us sold for $330,000 in November and had pictures showing that, aside from their hot tub, our house and that house were almost identical on the inside and in square footage. We made the case that our house was comparable and on an equal square footage basis should be valued at $326,000, which is consistent with all of the other sales of similarly sized homes around December 31 in our neighborhood of which we also presented photos and evidence.

Then they asked if we had any more questions, we said, "no" and then they literally just threw out three different numbers and settled on the lowest one: $382,000. :o :o :o :o I asked how they came up with it and they said that it was just the "opinion of the board" that $382,000 was a fair number, so while the "market value" went down, the assessed value didn't change. :o Jimminy Crickets!

Here is a picture of my little house (2049 sqft):

6302%20front.jpg6302%20back.jpg

Here is the house 4 doors down that sold for $330,000 in November (2024 sqft):

6410%20front.jpg6410%20back.jpg

This house sold for $426,000 in February 2007 (2082 sqft):

6211%20front.jpg6211%20back.jpg

Which is more comparable to my house? A or B? If you are HCAD, and apparently the Appraisal Review Board, your answer is "B" and I have no idea how that can possibly be considered accurate. I thought it was generous on our part to even think our house was comparable to the one next door, much less the modern thing two streets over.

What is labeled as an "independent" group sure did feel like a rubber stamp.

I know it's not a lot of money in taxes, but Mrs Cottonmather0 and I are thinking about looking for a lawyer to see if we have a case for arbitration. Do we? It feels like the ARB didn't even listen to anything we said at all, they just threw us a small bone and knocked an immaterial amount off of the HCAD amount without changing our assessed value at all. It felt like an absolute sham, in my opinion.

Edited by cottonmather0
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We just got back from our formal hearing this afternoon with the Appraisal Board and I have to say, walking out of there I felt like the jackboot of HCAD was planted squarely on my neck. I am just about beside myself with the way that worked out.

My wife and son and I all woke up with horrible head colds on the day of the informal so I called HCAD and asked to reschedule and was told that it was too late and I couldn't reschedule on the day of and that I could just show up for the formal. OK Fine. So my wife and I put together our little packet and went down there today.

We had pictures of all of the comps in the neighborhood, we had spreadsheets, we had press clippings from HAR, and we had dozens of photos from the house 4 doors down that sold in November and has the same floorplan and square footage as ours but with a much more nicely remodeled inside and a very pretty deck and spa in back.

HCAD had our "market value" listed at $398,000 and was using sales values from February and March of 2007 for 4 of the 5 "comparables" that they were using. I thought our case was a slam dunk. Our appraisal last year after our remodel was $315,000. This year the assessment went up to $361,000 after the 10% cap and the very small amount of remodeling that was finished after Jan 1 of last year.

In the hearing I pointed out that the almost identical house just down the street from us sold for $330,000 in November and had pictures showing that, aside from their hot tub, our house and that house were almost identical on the inside and in square footage. We made the case that our house was comparable and on an equal square footage basis should be valued at $326,000, which is consistent with all of the other sales of similarly sized homes around December 31 in our neighborhood of which we also presented photos and evidence.

Then they asked if we had any more questions, we said, "no" and then they literally just threw out three different numbers and settled on the lowest one: $382,000. :o:o:o:o I asked how they came up with it and they said that it was just the "opinion of the board" that $382,000 was a fair number, so while the "market value" went down, the assessed value didn't change. :o Jimminy Crickets!

Here is a picture of my little house (2049 sqft):

6302%20front.jpg6302%20back.jpg

Here is the house 4 doors down that sold for $330,000 in November (2024 sqft):

6410%20front.jpg6410%20back.jpg

This house sold for $426,000 in February 2007 (2082 sqft):

6211%20front.jpg6211%20back.jpg

Which is more comparable to my house? A or B? If you are HCAD, and apparently the Appraisal Review Board, your answer is "B" and I have no idea how that can possibly be considered accurate. I thought it was generous on our part to even think our house was comparable to the one next door, much less the modern thing two streets over.

What is labeled as an "independent" group sure did feel like a rubber stamp.

I know it's not a lot of money in taxes, but Mrs Cottonmather0 and I are thinking about looking for a lawyer to see if we have a case for arbitration. Do we? It feels like the ARB didn't even listen to anything we said at all, they just threw us a small bone and knocked an immaterial amount off of the HCAD amount without changing our assessed value at all. It felt like an absolute sham, in my opinion.

"INDEPENDENT" - selected by HCAD, paid by HCAD, performance evaluated by HCAD, need the money, afraid they will not be selected next year if they stray from the HCAD line,......what's not fair about that!

I had a somewhat similar experience last year, my noticed value went from $310k the prior year up to $412k, had a novice HCAD person for the informal who would only go down to $400k, went to the board and ended up with $402k, very arbitrary process IMO.

This year was the polar opposite - noticed value was $424k, had a very professional and experienced HCAD employee in the informal, she worked numbers on her calculator for 10 minutes or so and was able to offer me $361k - which I gladly accepted.

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I've done a little research since I wrote my post this afternoon and I am almost certain we're going to go for the arbitration. The most we would have to lose is $500 and the most we could gain would be ~ $1000 in lower taxes on the $40,000 difference.

The more I think about this sham, the madder I get.

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Appraisal District says legal fees drive its budget

Harris County agency wants third increase in as many years

Skyrocketing commercial property values have led to costly court battles for the Harris County Appraisal District, prompting its leaders to propose increasing its budget to nearly $65 million next year.

If approved by the district's board of directors next week, the budget will have increased 35 percent from a comparatively modest $48 million just last year.

News of yet another increase prompted calls for belt-tightening from officials at the Houston Independent School District, which funds a portion of the appraisal district's budget along with about 900 other taxing jurisdictions whose property values are set by its appraisers. The school district's bill would increase more than $1 million to about $10 million under the proposed budget.

"It's quite a chunk of change for us," said Melinda Garrett, the school district's chief financial officer. "It's taking $1 million out of our classrooms."

Chief appraiser Jim Robinson said he has little choice but to ask for more money as the number of lawsuits filed by unhappy property owners increases yearly, and the state comptroller continues to fight for even higher commercial property appraisals.

"Certainly, I appreciate their concerns. The jurisdictions have to pay the bill. But, by that same token, we have to do what the law requires us to do," Robinson said Tuesday.

Commercial property values in Harris County increased an average of 34 percent this year

Edited by musicman
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I've done a little research since I wrote my post this afternoon and I am almost certain we're going to go for the arbitration. The most we would have to lose is $500 and the most we could gain would be ~ $1000 in lower taxes on the $40,000 difference.

The more I think about this sham, the madder I get.

Sham doesn't even begin to describe what the stat and local politicians have been doing to our taxes while they look in the camera with a smile and say they lowered the taxes for homeowners a few years ago! Crazy appraisals and the business tax just don't really seem to matter to them.

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Sham doesn't even begin to describe what the stat and local politicians have been doing to our taxes while they look in the camera with a smile and say they lowered the taxes for homeowners a few years ago! Crazy appraisals and the business tax just don't really seem to matter to them.

I still haven't heard any response after my i-file. Should I be concerned yet? I keep hearing about others' results, and we've had no word yet.

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I still haven't heard any response after my i-file. Should I be concerned yet? I keep hearing about others' results, and we've had no word yet.

I only heard back from my i-file in mid-July, and just had my informal hearing. If I were you I would either email them or call them to check. The guy at my informal did mention that they were having a lot of problems this year, which often (as in my case) resulted in the inability to even give an initial offer through i-file

Interesting to hear about the issues with going through a formal meeting. In my own case, after meeting with a somewhat reasonable guy in my informal - lowered from $282K to $267K - I opted to skip the formal since you more or less start over on the process and it would require another trip and lost work. I'm hurt by few townhouse comps in my neighborhood of a similar size and vintage... What annoys me is that they seem to be somewhat arbitrary about data they allow into their analysis - he seemed more than willing to accept a sale from 5/08 since at first glance it seemed to support his position, then backed down and said it was too recent once he discovered that particular townhouse had an "extensive" remodel and would likely support my cause. We also disagreed about a sale he claimed was a foreclosure, since he said the distress of the seller meant it wasn't a true market transaction - I consider that BS when anyone can now actively search foreclosures on har. Is there a way to check to see if a recent sale was a foreclosure or not?

He also ignored my purchase of the home in late August 2006, since he claimed it was prior to Jan 1, 2008 - is this a steadfast rule they use? I think it was also a little iffy, since it is pretty common knowledge the real estate market has not exactly been solid the last couple of years

Edited by OkieEric
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Here's my deal with the appraisal...I have 10 unit townhouse development going up. On Jan 1 five of the houses were about 60% complete and 5 were about 20% complete. A few weeks ago we get the appraisal amounts for 2008 and they appraise all of the houses at $290ish! #1, not one of the homes was finished, really the properties are nearly worthless at these stages, #2. The highest I sold one for was $260,000 and that had a lot of builder concessions. The 1540 sq footer that I have listed at $230K....$290 by the county! The 2350 sq footer...$290 by the county??? Just throw a number out there.

So I went to my informal hearing and tell the guy theze were even close to being finished...he was willing to go with that so he crunches numberrs...looks like he is going to go with what I had in them. He then sayd they have my lot values at $62000 per lot. I told him that is ridiculous. I wouldn't pay $40000 for a lot over there right now. He said that since something was built on the property the lot was worth more which really teed me off because assuming its worth more its worth more because of the construction that went on....I was thinking then don't seperate the values, if its improved make that one value, the lots in that area are not wrth $60000. I have 12 lots in the area that I cannot get rid of at $45 per lot. Id gladly sell them at a discount to the city for $50000 each. They could turn around and sell them and make money. Damn idiots.

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I still haven't heard any response after my i-file. Should I be concerned yet? I keep hearing about others' results, and we've had no word yet.

I was starting to worry too, especially when my coworkers were coming in late after their formal hearings. It wasn't until last week when our i-Settle became available online. I would not expect anything to come of it either. I was insulted by the decrease - if that's what you want to call it. They took about $3,000 off the appraisal value... I wouldn't give them the satisfaction of calling that "throwing a bone" since nothing has been done to our house since 1974 except some new paint and appliances. HCAD is a bunch of lazy slack jaw fools that can't get their rears out of their chairs to go put actual comparisons out there. HAR can put together comparisons better than HCAD can. </rave>

Edited by Kirzania
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Here's my deal with the appraisal...I have 10 unit townhouse development going up. On Jan 1 five of the houses were about 60% complete and 5 were about 20% complete. A few weeks ago we get the appraisal amounts for 2008 and they appraise all of the houses at $290ish! #1, not one of the homes was finished, really the properties are nearly worthless at these stages, #2. The highest I sold one for was $260,000 and that had a lot of builder concessions. The 1540 sq footer that I have listed at $230K....$290 by the county! The 2350 sq footer...$290 by the county??? Just throw a number out there.

So I went to my informal hearing and tell the guy theze were even close to being finished...he was willing to go with that so he crunches numberrs...looks like he is going to go with what I had in them. He then sayd they have my lot values at $62000 per lot. I told him that is ridiculous. I wouldn't pay $40000 for a lot over there right now. He said that since something was built on the property the lot was worth more which really teed me off because assuming its worth more its worth more because of the construction that went on....I was thinking then don't seperate the values, if its improved make that one value, the lots in that area are not wrth $60000. I have 12 lots in the area that I cannot get rid of at $45 per lot. Id gladly sell them at a discount to the city for $50000 each. They could turn around and sell them and make money. Damn idiots.

They pulled something similar with our townhouse complex. This was a few years ago. We got an appraisal based on the January value (it was a slab); something like 42,000. Then, about 6 months later, they sent a NEW appraisal, raising it to something like 160K. Totally breaking their own rules. They did it to a bunch of the houses, so the builders protested, and got them to basically split the difference. Still illegal, but not quite so galling. Now, three years later, they have again broken their own rules with their appraisal of our property, raising it 11%. I don't understand how they can get away with all of these dirty deals.

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They pulled something similar with our townhouse complex. This was a few years ago. We got an appraisal based on the January value (it was a slab); something like 42,000. Then, about 6 months later, they sent a NEW appraisal, raising it to something like 160K. Totally breaking their own rules. They did it to a bunch of the houses, so the builders protested, and got them to basically split the difference. Still illegal, but not quite so galling. Now, three years later, they have again broken their own rules with their appraisal of our property, raising it 11%. I don't understand how they can get away with all of these dirty deals.

This terrifies me. My house was completed in 10/07 and I still hasn't been valued (nothing in my neighborhood has apparantly). Its listed on HAR as "pending." I went to HAR in March to file my homestead and at first they wouldn't accept it because I didn't exist in the system. So I made them create a file for me so I could get the homestead. So now I'm on HCAD but still listed as "pending." Its August and I have no idea what I'll be appraised at! Recent sales of my floorplan over the past 12 months ranged from 229 to 263. I paid 245. New homes (same designer, slightly different plan) are selling for 299. I could be assessed anywhere form 229 to 299, but I likely won't know until a week before taxes are due! Will I be able to protest? I want to pay before 12/31 so I get it on this year's tax bill. Ugh.

Jeff

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This terrifies me. My house was completed in 10/07 and I still hasn't been valued (nothing in my neighborhood has apparantly). Its listed on HAR as "pending." I went to HAR in March to file my homestead and at first they wouldn't accept it because I didn't exist in the system. So I made them create a file for me so I could get the homestead. So now I'm on HCAD but still listed as "pending." Its August and I have no idea what I'll be appraised at! Recent sales of my floorplan over the past 12 months ranged from 229 to 263. I paid 245. New homes (same designer, slightly different plan) are selling for 299. I could be assessed anywhere form 229 to 299, but I likely won't know until a week before taxes are due! Will I be able to protest? I want to pay before 12/31 so I get it on this year's tax bill. Ugh.

Jeff

The link below was an investiagtive report that Stephan Dean of KPRC did a few months ago. I emailed him with my griefs on how absurd my experience was with their panels. He stated to me he was going to be watching. Just my opinion but you could email him with your issue as a follow up. You can also call Paul Bettancourt's office and complain. There is a lady who can take your complaint if you feel that you were treated unfairly.

http://www.click2houston.com/investigates/...236/detail.html

Of course in the end you probably will go to arbitration but in your case it may be worth it.

Edited by linyer
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The link below was an investiagtive report that Stephan Dean of KPRC did a few months ago. I emailed him with my griefs on how absurd my experience was with their panels. He stated to me he was going to be watching. Just my opinion but you could email him with your issue as a follow up. You can also call Paul Bettancourt's office and complain. There is a lady who can take your complaint if you feel that you were treated unfairly.

http://www.click2houston.com/investigates/...236/detail.html

Of course in the end you probably will go to arbitration but in your case it may be worth it.

Thanks! I think I'm going to call tomorrow morning. I kinda feel like I should keep my mouth shut and maybe they'll never appraise or tax me... :) Maybe they'll just forget...

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The link below was an investiagtive report that Stephan Dean of KPRC did a few months ago. I emailed him with my griefs on how absurd my experience was with their panels. He stated to me he was going to be watching. Just my opinion but you could email him with your issue as a follow up. You can also call Paul Bettancourt's office and complain. There is a lady who can take your complaint if you feel that you were treated unfairly.

http://www.click2houston.com/investigates/...236/detail.html

Of course in the end you probably will go to arbitration but in your case it may be worth it.

Yeah, "absurd" is a very good word for it.

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I remain curious why HCAD always receives the blame as being in some sort of conspiracy, when it the Texas legislature that refuses to mandate disclosure of home sales. The GOP led legislature refuses to change the law to mandate the release of sales prices...the best arbiter of market value...yet GOP politicians, such as Paul Bettancourt lambaste HCAD for not basing the appraisals on good numbers.

It appears the conspiracy is by GOP politicians and their well-heeled contributors, the biggest losers if their normally undervalued mansions were properly valuated. But, I guess it is always easier to shoot the messenger, HCAD.

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I remain curious why HCAD always receives the blame as being in some sort of conspiracy, when it the Texas legislature that refuses to mandate disclosure of home sales. The GOP led legislature refuses to change the law to mandate the release of sales prices...the best arbiter of market value...yet GOP politicians, such as Paul Bettancourt lambaste HCAD for not basing the appraisals on good numbers.

It appears the conspiracy is by GOP politicians and their well-heeled contributors, the biggest losers if their normally undervalued mansions were properly valuated. But, I guess it is always easier to shoot the messenger, HCAD.

Red, I don't think that's the point of my post. HCAD does a very good job of sharing data with property owners and I had no gripe at all about getting home sales data from them. And once I did it was very easy to take that data and go to HAR to get photos and details about each property. My complaint is that HCAD chose the highest priced properties in the neighborhood - properties that were not comparable to my home and sold closer to 12/31/06 rather than 12/31/07 - and then "adjusted" that data down to make up some sort of comparable figure. Then, when I found houses that were much more comparable in appearance and size to my house and that sold closer to the appraisal date, the Board simply disregarded that information.

I think my complaint - and the complaint in the article linked above - is that HCAD itself isn't using comparable sales, it's using some cockamamy overly complicated model to come up with "adjusted" values based on a subjective selection of the more expensive homes in a particular neighborhood instead of using actual comparable sales values, which I agree is the proper way to do it.

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